Brian and I have been reviewing Jack Levison’s recently released book, Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life (thank you Paraclete Press for the review copy of this book). Today I continue the review series by noting some brief points made from chapter four of this book.
Chapter four of this book is entitled “Joel’s Dream.” Before reading, Levison presupposes that we’ve read Numbers 11:1-30, Joel 3:1-4, Acts 2:16-21, Acts 10:1-16, Acts 11:1-18, and Acts 15:1-35.
Levison begins by talking about the enigmatic (perhaps to certain adherents of certain denominations), yet interesting story found in Numbers 11:1-30. In this story the Israelites are complaining, groaning, moaning and all of this some more about how they want meat to eat. The Lord’s anger burned against them. Moses went before the Lord and made a request. The Lord told Moses to take 70 Elders to go to the Tent of Meeting. When they come together the Lord will take some of the anointing on Moses and spread it around. When they met together, the Spirit fell on them and they began to prophesy, but did not do so again, except for Eldad and Medad. They continued to prophesy. It was then reported to Moses what was happening, and upon hearing this, Joshua said, “Moses, my lord, stop them! (Num. 11:28).” Moses then responds by saying, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them! (11:29)”
One of the first things Levison notes about this interesting pericope is this: they continued to prophesy, even being apart from Moses. You see, Joshua was all about going through the “proper channels” (Levison, 97). Moses allowed the Spirit to have his way. Moses was thrilled that the Spirit fell upon others, even when he wasn’t around, and that they were prophesying; in fact he wished that all prophesied. This leadership was Spirit-endorsed, even if it wasn’t man-endorsed. Levison says,
A better leader, a greater leader, a preeminent leader, allows the spirit to authorize people who lie outside of his or her control. And those who lie outside a leader’s control may not be those whom the leader can control at all! (We might ask ourselves why Eldad and Medad were not with everyone else.) Yet the spirit does control them, and the best leader, who knows this, can, like Moses, relinquish control to the spirit. (Levison, 98).
Now, I don’t want to and won’t give a systematic survey of the chapter, but this is how he moves to Acts 2 and Joel 2. Who is prophesying in Joel 2? The sons and daughters! This idea is scandalous. This does not conform to the religious propriety of the day.
I am TOTALLY about theological, biblical, and pastoral education. In fact, I think my tradition, the Assemblies of God, in some cases, does not place strong enough an emphasis on this. But at the same time, I think they catch a reality that we see in Numbers 11, a reality that we see in Joel 2, a reality that we see Peter says is fulfilled in Acts 2. The unexpected are the ones who are doing the prophesying. I think this idea was caught at Azusa. The Spirit fell, tongues came, and whether it was man or woman, young or old, they began to preach, they began to share the prophetic word from the Lord. The Spirit was the one who endorsed, even if man didn’t. And no, they did not have their M.Div. Again, I am not bashing education (I am all about it), but I think that if we see the Spirit is moving in a particular way, let’s be more like Moses, than Joshua, more like Peter and Joel than the religious critics of the day.
We like to be in control. But I encourage us all to remember Jesus in John 3: just the wind blows where it wishes, so does the Spirit. We see the effects of the Spirit. Let’s not ignore the winds of the Spirit by saying he isn’t blowing all around, when in fact we’re in the midst of a hurricane. Let’s be daring, let’s be undignified, let’s be radical – let’s be caught up with where the Spirit is leading. He’s God, we can trust Him.